Stain Away’s whitening system claims chipped, but not capped
Power Swabs, the teeth-whitening system produced by Stain Away, LLC, promises truly amazing results—“Clinically proven on average to whiten teeth two shades in less than five minutes after first use, six shades in seven days,” and “The Power Swabs literally saved my pocketbook $7,500.00 when preparing to replace my four 25-year-old (front-teeth) porcelain veneers…” The company features remarkable before-and-after photos on its website, alongside glowing doctor testimonials.
So it isn’t surprising that the company’s advertisements caught the attention of industry self-regulator, the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program.
ERSP’s assessment offered a mixed bag of results that mostly favor Stain Away’s claims. On the one hand, the company supplied clinical studies that backed up its “six shades in seven days” and other claims about the product’s efficacy and comparative strength versus competitors, and found that certain of the testimonials used by the company passed muster.
The not-so-good news? While ERSP did not take issue with the product’s effect on a variety of dental substances—“natural teeth, veneers, bonding, caps and crowns”—it took issue with a claim that artificial surfaces could be returned to a “natural” color. In addition, ERSP raised objections to two testimonials: one dentist “communicated an implied claim that was not supported by the evidence in the case record,” while a consumer testimonial that “Power Swabs literally saved my pocketbook $7,500.00” was also not reasonably supported.
ERSP also noted that the macabre line, “Unlike those normal whitening strips and trays, you won’t be screaming in pain,” wasn’t quite a fair representation of the company’s competition.
The company promised to properly qualify the specified claims and to take its recommendations into account for future advertising. Advertisers need to have sufficient substantiation for each and every implied and express claim made or else advertising may be challenged by competitors, consumers, regulators and advertising self-regulatory watch dogs.